It Takes a Village

The Holiday Village is full of merry makers! Our village is home to five buildings, with smells of Bavarian nuts, Ho ho hos, merry music and jolly good times. You will find snacks, sweets and fun treats in the pantry of the Church. The Holiday Shop sponsored by the Emerson Family will be filled full of stocking stuffers, Zoo Lights memorabilia, toys and more to go under your tree. Elf Headquarters sponsored by Schendel Lawn & Landscape and GreenPoint Pest Solutions will be a busy shop full of gifts galore for you to purchase. There is a stable and of course, Santa’s House with a big thanks going out to its sponsor Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas!


You know how you line dominos up and tap the first and the row falls and creates that cool pattern, that’s how it works. It started with an idea, then SDG created a concept, we tweaked that and their creative team (POOF) makes the most magical village for us! Then a team of Engineers between SDG, Certus, PKMR, and PEC along with KBS, Schmidtlein Excavating, Torgeson Electric and Conroy Contractors added all their thoughts. Our next few dominos involve walls and rafters as we are excited to report are being built right now. Elves will be busy excavating the ground to be level for guest pathways and building pads for the village to sit on.  The final details involve painting, decorating and moving in Santa’s Special Chair that volunteers Mike and Larry have been busy building. Those two elves are definitely on Santa’s nice list!


Schwerdt Design Group (SDG) is an amazing creative team! You might be familiar with some of the work that Elf Stormer has created as you walk through the zoo. From butterfly pavilion, behind the scene needs for sea lion splash or when you are flying through the lorikeet aviary. The inspiration of the holiday village is a taking you to a Bavarian atmosphere, inspired by Leavenworth Washington. A great group of elves is now busy in the woodshop building away. KBS is building away along with coordinating the install from ground zero! It takes a great foundation to make the paint stick! Some of the buildings are being built at our other woodshop- Washburn Tech!


"We have a great partnership and valued relationships with the Topeka Zoo and the people that operate it and want to again partner with them on a festive community project. Zoo Lights is a great way for families to get out, be together and enjoy the holidays. We want the Holiday Village to be a festive atmosphere, creating a magical & creative experience!"

- Loren Dekat


Two different groups are then doing the initial construction of the 5 village buildings, the first being the KBS apprenticeship class. KBS has a 4 year carpenter apprenticeship program to teach each student about the aspects of carpentry work, including both class and hands on constructing time. Building the village is a great way to do the on hands teaching and learning, benefiting both the students as well as the Zoo & Topeka community through getting quality buildings built while providing a great learning situation for  apprentices.


Similar to the first group, Washburn Tech’s Carpentry class is constructing 3 of the 5 buildings as part of their course curriculum. Instructor Dave Praiswater and his students were very excited about the opportunity to build something that has an end use like the village buildings while learning the carpentry trade. KBS has supported and partnered with Washburn Tech for many years and has multiple graduates currently working for them.